Review Summary: Unfortunately, Matt Bellamy is mad as well as inspired, meaning this album is marred by excessiveness and potentially great songs become merely good.
Matt Bellamy is mad. There is simply no other explanation for it. I simply can't see any other reason for the end lyric to Knights of Cydonia, the whole of Exo Politics and the bizzareness of City of Delusion and Hoodoo. But does this madness create a classic which sane men could not even contemplete creating, or does it get in the way of what is striving to be good music, coming across as self indulgence?
Well, both in fact. The opener, Take a Bow, is a pretty good piece of evidence for both cases. The synth strains which open it are glorious, soaring out of the speakers and filling the room with the majestic. Bellamy's vocals are perfect, while Chris Wolestenhome and Dominic Howard support the case that they ashould get far more media attention for talent. Then, about the halfway mark, it just all goes up a level as far as insanity goes. Suddenly, the majestic synths are flying everywhere, theres a distorted guitar in the mix, the vocals sound demented, and come the final flourish, it just all feels a little bit too much.
This overkill almost wrecks some songs. Invincible is really rather touching and reassuring, until all those instruments (surf guitar, bass, organ, drums, vocals, some random noise I can't describe), which worked so well subdued, are made a little bit more prevalent and it all becomes a mess. The outro and solo are just ludicrous. Starlight works so unbelievably well on the simple level, it's intro sounding so clean and shimmering. Then the ridiculous piano parts come in and yet again it all seems a bit much.
That is not to say that the madness does not sometimes work superbly. Knights of Cydonia, despite containing enough evidence to have the band placed in an asylum (especially considering its a single), works brilliantly. Starting off with galloping horses and lasers, its first half is reminiscient of 'The Good the Bad and the Ugly,' theme tune, whilst the second half with its demented 'No one's going to take me alive,' refrain, is pretty rousing. Exo Politics reins in the madness just enough to make the subversive riff bearable and provide the most convincing political argument this century (all our leaders are all aliens!).
And there is one song on here, 4 minutes of absolutely inspired genius. If it is indeed history that decides who is mad and who is a genius, the Bellamy must pray the future remembers Map of the Problematique. A twisting and turning journey through the human psyche, it creates monochrome images of despair through the perfect melding of edgy instrumentals, soaring melodies and superbly bleak lyrics. The drumming in particular stands out for keeping the song thrilling (imagine it doesn't change at the half way mark like that to see what I mean). That haunting keyboard during the chorus is the icing on the cake, which is for me one of the best songs of the decade.
Unfortunately, most of the rest of the album, despite being inventive, is slightly dull. Soldiers Poem is just a mistake, and once you've got your head around the mad moments, they seem to be kind of pointless (Super Massive Black Hole is an excellent example here). Band performances are amazing, and these are clearly top class musicians with an understanding of music. If only they'd restrain their obvious creative genius/madness so that the songs could shine through, they'd truly be in buisiness. As it is, we have an album of half inspired, half indulgent songs and one which truly shines out as being an absolute classic.
Good, well reasoned review, despite how much I disagree.
I'm a diehard Muse fan. They've been my favourite band for the last 5/6 years and it's only now that they've finally exploded with an album of outrageously over-the-top music.
Black Holes And Revelations is the album I've been waiting for from Muse, and seeing as it took three years to create their shortest album to date, they need to cram a lot of insanity inot a short space of time.
Take A Bow, Supermassive Black Hole, Map Of The Problematique, Assassin, City Of Delusion and Knights Of Cydonia are all extraordinary songs in my view though I will admit the album is let down by some real duff tracks (Invincible and Exo-Politics especially).
I just really hope Muse can continue creating 'sillier' music so to speak, rather than their more serious overblown work found on Absolution.
So yeah, great album, let down by a few blips (how Invincible made the cut, I do not know...).
And again, good review :].This Message Edited On 01.01.07This Message Edited On 01.01.07
I used to think the same thing, but this album is just amazing actually. It's unbelievable. Such a grower, this one.
Starlight is awesome, Map of the Problematique is just killer, Take A Bow is really cool, Assassin sounds like it came out of a Dream Theater jam session (which for me is bonus points ++), Exo-Politics, Knights of Cydonia... yeah. this album is a best.